Children's property and inheritance rights, 
HIV and Aids, and social protection in Southern and Eastern Africa

HIV/AIDS Programme
Working Paper
4


Children's Property Inheritance in the
Context of HIV and AIDS
in Zimbabwe

by
Laurel L. Rose, Ph.D.

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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Rome, 2008



ABSTRACT

HIV and AIDS has exacerbated the vulnerability of orphaned children who are suffering in a vicious cycle of poverty, food insecurity, lack of access to education, and insecure livelihoods.

Moreover, orphaned children are exposed to various forms of abuse by close family members, many of whom are their guardians. Movable and immovable properties that are left by their deceased parents are often confiscated by such guardians. Consequently, orphaned children suffer, not only from material impoverishment, but also from emotional impoverishment due to negligence by their close family members.

Secure property and inheritance rights to children can provide the basis for their livelihoods, sense of belonging and future after the death of their parents. It cannot be overemphasized that secure property rights are the single most important rights of children in the era of AIDS. Yet, children's property and inheritance rights have not been given sufficient attention.

This paper investigates children's rights to property and inheritance rights as well as local people's interpretation of children's rights to property in selected communities in Zimbabwe as a case study. It analyses the impact of HIV and AIDS on children's rights to property and community responses to property grabbing. The study is an attempt to unpack the complex realities of children's rights to property on the ground. By doing so, the paper provides concrete recommendations to policy makers and development agencies on what should be done to protect and strengthen children's rights to property. It is our hope that this paper will be the messenger of the children who were interviewed under the study and that our work can contribute to the protection of property rights and the livelihoods of many other children in the near future.



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